It Takes A Community: Balancing public narratives on migrants and refugees in the Euro-Mediterranean

Virtual Event: 10am-11:30am CET – Panel 1; noon-1:30pm CET – Panel 2





International human mobility is a defining feature of the world today, and when managed well, it positively impacts both migrants and refugees, as well as their countries of origin, transit, and destination. The meaningful inclusion of migrants and refugees in their host societies can also boost innovation, respond to labour market needs, support economic growth, and add valuable new perspectives to societies.

Amidst an unprecedented level of migration and displacement globally, public narratives have become deeply polarized on both a regional and global scale. Misinformation and myths have rapidly gained traction at the same time when evidence-based communication has struggled to shift public opinion.

In addition to contributing to public discontentment and eroding confidence in migration management, the spread of inaccurate narratives can fuel discrimination and acts of violence towards migrants and refugees. Narratives that recognize the diverse contributions of migrants and refugees to their communities can serve to build trust, belonging, and engagement on a community level, thereby supporting social cohesion and combatting the spread of xenophobia and discrimination. Balancing the public narrative on migrants and refugees is therefore essential in realizing the full benefits of comprehensive and well-managed migration for all. 

While states play a central role in balancing public narratives on migrants and refugees, they are not the only actors with the capacity to make a long-lasting impact. Local governments, civil society organizations, the private sector, and migrants and refugees themselves can make valuable contributions to balancing public narratives by leveraging their interactions with diverse audiences in society.

By bringing together states, local governments, civil society, businesses, and migrants and refugees themselves, this session will tap into the unique value of the It Takes A Community (ITAC) campaign as a space for multi-stakeholder dialogue, engagement, and collaboration. Participants will benefit from the sharing of best practices and actionable recommendations to support the development of their own communications products or campaigns. 

This event will be second in a series of expert dialogues on migration narratives within ITAC.


  • Facilitate the exchange of information and best practices between communication experts engaged in balancing the public narrative on migrants and refugees in the Euro-Mediterranean region, including states, local governments, international organizations, civil society organizations, businesses, and migrants and refugees themselves;
  • Identify concrete messages, strategies, and joint initiatives that promote a balanced narrative on migrants and refugees; and
  • Inform decision-makers and relevant stakeholders on the key trends, practices, and recommendations, which will feed into region-specific sections of the Global Migration Narratives Outlook for the Global Forum on Migration and Development’s Government-led Roundtable on Improving the perception of migration in public opinion through narratives, culture, emotional and rational discourse.


  • Participants have learned about how they can contribute to changing the narrative on migration in their own communities and are equipped with information and resources that they can use to engage in this work; 
  • Examples of initiatives that contribute to balancing the narrative on migrants and refugees are noted and used for both the Global Migration Narratives Outlook and the 5th Round Table, as well as recorded for ITAC online repository website
  • Experts in the field of migration narratives have connected with and learned from experts beyond their existing networks and identified potential synergies, building a community of ‘narrative changers’ and identifying possible ‘narrative influencers’


  • Representatives from states, civil society organizations, academia, international organizations and the private sector;
  • Mayoral representatives from local governments; 
  • Communications practitioners (including public servants) who are actively working to balance the public narrative on migrants and refugees, or are seeking to begin initiatives to balance the public narrative.


    Panel 1: Regional dynamics (90 minutes)

    In the first panel, five communications experts and a moderator will speak to the landscape of narratives on migrants and refugees in the Euro-Mediterranean. This panel will discuss regional contexts and how narratives have shifted in recent years (e.g. after COVID-19 and Russia’s war in Ukraine).

    Panel 2: Narratives initiatives (90 minutes)

    Focusing on initiatives and messaging to public audiences, this panel will feature four communications experts working on initiatives to balance public narratives on migrants and refugees. This panel will build on the regional dynamics discussed in the first panel and dive deep into narratives initiatives and public messaging. This panel will discuss who the target audience is, what public narratives each initiative is trying to balance, which messages have the most impact, and individuals or organizations (“influencers”) who are able to deliver messages on migrants and refugees with success.

    The moderator will encourage active engagement and interaction with participants through YouTube chat boxes. Participants will also be invited to share existing resources and questions from their own work when they register for the event on the ITAC website.

    ITAC will use this registration form to collect information to be included in the Repository of Practices:

    1. What is your version of a key message for ITAC?
    2. Why does your organization work on migration narratives?
    3. What opinions are you trying to balance?
    4. What tools or resources currently exist that can be drawn upon to inform the creation of new initiatives or campaigns?
    5. What new tools, resources, research or data would be useful for actors involved in migration narratives work in the region


    • Thomas Liebig is a Senior Migration Specialist in the International Migration Division of the OECD in Paris, where he is in charge of the work on the integration of immigrants and their children. Among other projects, he led in-depth country studies on integration in 17 OECD countries as well as international comparative work on a broad range of topics related to migration and integration. He has also been in charge of an OECD-wide project that aims at identifying good practices for getting the most out of diversity for businesses and societies at large. Since 2018, he is a member of the expert group for demographic projections of the German Federal Statistical Office and in February 2019, he was appointed member of the expert commission on integration capacity by the German federal government. Thomas holds a doctorate and an MSc in Economics from the University of St. Gallen (Switzerland). He also holds an MSc in International Affairs and, following studies at the ESADE (Barcelona, Spain), a CEMS Master in International Business Management. Prior to joining the International Migration Division in 2004, he worked for the OECD’s Economics Department in 2000 and for the Institute for Labour Economics and Labour Law at the University of St. Gallen from 2001-2004.
    • James Dennison is a part-time Professor at the Migration Policy Centre of the European University Institute, where he leads the Observatory of Public Attitudes to Migration (OPAM) – the first observatory to collect and produce comprehensive, international data on public attitudes toward migration. His research interests include political attitudes, psychology and behavior, the politics of migration and research methods. His work primarily covers Europe as well as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region 
    • Carlo De Marco, Secretary General, Border Towns and Islands Network (BTIN), has strong expertise in Global Citizenship Education, Migrations and Sustainable Development. His experiences range from social research to project writing and management, from communication management to building and developing networks and partnerships. He worked for AMREF Health Africa, Lampedusa and Linosa Municipality, the University of Padova, the International Transformation Foundation (Kenya), EMUNI - Euro-Mediterranean University, Africa and Mediterraneo and the International NGO CEIPES.
    • Amadou Sako is the Regional Adviser & Project Officer for Africa at the International Organisation of Employers (IOE), the largest network of the private sector in the world, with more than 150 member organizations, representing over 50 million companies in 140 countries. In addition to coordinating the engagement of African employers within the International Labour Organization (ILO), he works on building strategic partnerships between multilateral organizations and the private sector in Africa, as well as promoting Intra-African private sector actors’ cooperation. Amadou Sako advises IOE’s secretariat, members, and partners on policies & practices related to informality (formalization of businesses), trade, youth employment & entrepreneurship, and has a strong interest in digital solutions and renewable energy. He also coordinates the Tech@Work project, a partnership between Microsoft and IOE, aiming at upskilling 20,000 young Africans in Senegal, Uganda, Lesotho, and RDC with digital and soft skills.
    • Maryna Hovorukhina is a strategic communications expert with 15 years of experience who had to flee Ukraine after Russia’s full-scale invasion and is now based in Berlin, Germany. She is the author of the book "Strategic Communications for Public Organizations", the founder of the Ukrainian women’s club "Mitla Berlin" and the head of the communication department of the Ukrainian NGO “Common Sense Communications”. Maryna is a communications trainer and has helped more than 50 NGOs, businesses and international organizations to develop their communication strategies.
    • Othman Talbi is an official at the Directorate of Migration Affairs of Morocco and has worked on various projects related to narratives on migration.
    • Teresa Albano worked as Economic Affairs Officer at the Office of the Co-ordinator of Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and as Anti-trafficking and Gender Focal Point at the International Organization for Migration. She graduated in International Law at La Sapienza University in Rome paired with two Masters in Humanitarian Action and Sustainable Development. She has gained extensive experience in the humanitarian aid, migration and anti-trafficking sectors working with NGOs and International Organizations in various geo-political contexts: the Balkan and Mediterranean regions, Eastern Europe, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Central Asia. Ms. Teresa Albano is a visiting Professor at La Sapienza and Tor Vergata Universities on migration and human trafficking-related topics.
    • Sara Speicher is deputy general secretary of the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), which promotes communication as a basic human right, essential to people’s dignity and community. WACC works through media monitoring, education, capacity building and advocacy to enable all people, especially vulnerable and marginalized communities, to be seen and heard. With WACC’s European region, she has worked since 2015 on assessing the representation of migrants and refugees in the European news media and facilitating initiatives to “Change the Narrative” on migration and asylum.  
    • Victoria Zagitova is a youth advocate and Communications Lead at the Migation Youth and Children Platform (MYCP). Victoria's main expertise is building communications in the humanitarian sector. As a communications specialist, she worked with organizations such as UNESCO, ITU, WWF, Caritas, and others. Victoria Zagitova is the Social Media Blogger and Activist with the Young and Hired project, which has helped young people around the world find a career path and fulfill themselves in the new digital realities of the world after the pandemic. Graduated in European and Global Studies from the Università degli Studi di Padova with Boston University and SciencesPo Paris.




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